Southwest Airlines Brings Back Its Beloved Peanuts—But Not on Flights
Last June, Southwest Airlines announced that it had made the "difficult decision" to stop serving its signature snack, those little blue bags of lightly salted peanuts. The Dallas-based carrier said that it would be ditching the nuts so that flyers with peanut-related allergies wouldn't have to worry about being exposed to them onboard.
"Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where all customers—including those with peanut-related allergies—feel safe and welcome on every Southwest flight," the company said in a statement at the time. "We'll miss the peanuts, but, at the end of the day, it's our Southwest Employees and the hospitality they deliver that set us apart, far more than peanuts ever could."
And that was that: Southwest started passing out miniature bags of equally miniature pretzels (and occasional bags of plane-shaped cookies, bless) and seems to have moved past its lightly salted past. But a few days ago, the airline announced that peanuts are back, baby—but not on their planes.
"Missing the Southwest peanuts? We've got 'em right here," Southwest wrote on Facebook. "Introducing the newest item available at Southwest the Store: the peanut lunchbox, complete with two bags of our legendary Southwest peanuts."
Okay, first, Southwest Airlines has an online store. Next, each one of these $29 retro-looking lunchboxes is packed with two 10-ounce bags of peanuts, one lightly salted and one honey roasted. And, because people are apparently, you know, nuts about those peanuts, they're currently backordered until October 10.
"In celebration of our 48th birthday in June, we wanted to include customers, so we brought back a fan favorite, plus other new items," a Southwest spokesperson told Food & Wine. "Although we are currently out of stock, Customers can request to be notified when they are back in stock by selecting 'Save for Later' options on the Southwest Airlines Peanut Tin page."
For Southwest stans who are deeply committed to that peanut life, the store stocks a few other nut-themed products, including a double-sided peanut-package pillow, a peanut pouch "for makeup and accessories," and a $190 set of 10 peanut-themed power banks.
If you just can't wait two weeks to taste the flavor of a nonstop flight to Orlando, it is possible to order peanuts directly from Southwest's own nut vendor, King Nut Company. The Cleveland, Ohio fruit-and-nut purveyor even sells airline-sized bags of honey roasted peanuts; a 25-pack currently sells for $3.99. (There are more than a dozen eBay sellers who claim to have unopened bags of Southwest-branded peanuts, but do you really need a stranger's secondhand snacks?)
Southwest wasn't the first airline to serve peanuts, but it was the first to serve nothing but peanuts, after doing away with its own in-flight meals so it could offer even cheaper fares. "It was all about marketing," Bob Van der Linden, chair of the aeronautics division at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, told Quartz. "Southwest was the first to serve only peanuts, and did so proudly, to show how cost efficient it was."
The plan worked—and Southwest enjoyed its reputation as "the peanut airline." According to USA Today, its own corporate blog was written under the name "Nuts About Southwest," and a 1998 book about the company was called Nuts! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success.
So go ahead and place that lunchbox order so you can pay homage to the OG airplane snack. Just don't take it with you on your next flight.